Jackson Pollock Retrospective in Eighteen (18) Parts
“As to what
I would like
It is difficult
of some kind.
If nothing else
I shall always
study the Arts.
People have always
and bored me
I have been
my own shell
– Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock (January 28, 1912 – August 11, 1956) was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. Pollock was best known for his unique style of drip painting, never making contact with the canvas. This method has inspired many to try to do their own ‘Pollock’, more to honor than to copy.
Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and was infamous for his notoriety. The major artist of his generation and a recluse, with an erratic personality. He was more than an alcoholic. I conjecture, he suffered from shifting moods. Hypothesis: he was always skating on the edge of bipolar. At least, that is the appearance. Knowing inside what happens outside, I would say the alcohol was a way of self-medicating to remove the haunting darkness.
In 1945, he married the artist Lee Krasner, who became his grounding force. She tried to go with what he needed but his temper was hurtful and cutting; and during his life while married to Krasner, the most difficult behavior for her to bear was his involvement with younger women. So when he wasn’t being a good husband and friend, he was like Greta Garbo, “I want to be alone” or I need to escape from everything. All the while, I would expect, he thought most about getting back to work while feeling he was always being pulled away from it. His soul needed to express what poured forth from the creative forces all around him. He needed to paint.
***In August 1949, Life Magazine ran a leading headline that invoked the question: “Jackson Pollock: Is he the greatest living painter in the United States?” Already famous in the New York art world, Pollock’s artistic reputation was widely known. He was American’s first “Art Star”—with his daring and radical style of painting continuing to change the path of modern art. Pollock was tormented. It plagued the artist throughout his life. I would estimate his tortured soul was driving him toward his obsessive need to paint, a way to express what communed with his soul. It helped orchestrate his wildly passionate innovative art—but still the darkness haunted him. He struggled with self-doubt; and became engaged in a lone battle between needing to express himself and shutting out the world. Pollock was in a downward spiral. It threatened to destroy the grounding his marriage provided with Lee Krasner, his gifted career, and ultimately his life. It ended with Pollock wanting to abandon the world in what appeared to be on a calm and clement summer night in 1956.
During one of his drunken episodes while out drinking with some young women, he was feeling wild inside while driving exceedingly fast, the top down. With a liquor bottle in one hand, he intentionally aimed his car off the road, crossing a field into what appeared to be a maze of trees. There was a crash. Pollock was killed. He was only 44. Cause of his death was declared to be an alcohol-related single-car accident when he was driving.
After Pollock’s death, there were retrospectives created by MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) and The Tate of London. One four months after his death in December 1956, and then some forty years later in 1998 and 1999. His paintings sell now in the nine figures, ex. $140,000,000 for one painting in a relatively recent acquisition. It’s amazing how artists reap the riches for the wealthy investor, whether they enjoy the works they purchase, it really is an investment to appreciate their already obscene fortunes. And we, as a government in the USA [the RePubs], deign to support the arts, wherever they should be found. How screwed up is that? Let the artist suffer. The art will be improved. The message is clear the artist, whether painter, poet, writer, film maker or other forms of art (there are so many forms in which to express art). It scares the shit out of those who think they are the power center. Power is their illusion. The artist, inside, sees the truth, even if it’s not always clarified in the beginning. Meaning grows with its filtering in the minds of those who can see or try to see. Eventually the light shines upon its ever changing interpretations of Truth. – j.kiley